Strategy #1: Slow down.
What do I mean by slowing down? Each of you is busy rushing around with work, family, and social obligations. You probably figure your relationship can just wait in the background while you're zooming about trying to get everything else done. But in reality, you need to take the time to pause and look at what's happening to your relationship right now. Notice what your partner is doing today and how your partner contributes to your life. Notice what he or she is wearing. Find out something about his or her day that you didn't know before. Slow down.
Strategy #2: Make a play date.
Laughing, being a little wild, and having fun are all great ways to re-trigger the lightness and joy you felt when you first met. Several psychology studies show that if you do activities with your partner that produce brain chemicals associated with arousal, this arousal gets transferred to your private, intimate relationship. Activities that create fear (e.g., roller coaster rides, skydiving, bungee jumping, or scary movies) or that cause an upsurge in the feel-good brain chemicals (e.g., working out or vigorous hiking) actually increase passionate love.
Strategy #3: Engage in new activities.
Doing novel activities with your partner enables you both to re-experience that original sense of newness, adventure, and risk taking you felt while you were dating. It doesn't matter what the activity is, as long as it's something you have not done before with your partner. Preferably, it's something neither of you has done. It could be as simple as trying a new restaurant, or as involved as taking African drumming lessons. I know a couple that went to a Rumba class together, and they were both so comical and lousy at it that it jump-started an evening of mirth.
Strategy #4: Remember to touch.
Studies show that couples feel better and more connected when they frequently engage in small nonsexual endearments, including touching, cuddling in the couch, greeting each other with a kiss, hugging, and holding hands. Why Touch Is Vital To A Happy Relationship
Strategy #5: Show or tell your partner that you value him/her.
Feeling taken for granted is one of the most common complaints of couples who have been together for a while. It takes almost no effort to show or tell your partner that you notice, value, love, and care for him or her. Fill up her car with gas. Send him a midday love email. Offer to cook her dinner. Give him a foot massage. It's easy.
No matter how much you love your partner, the issues of parenthood, work, complicated life, money, extended family, health, aging—and the list goes on—can get in the way of feeling sexy. But my suggested strategies and action steps really do work.
I'd like to leave you with a couple more findings from my long-term study of married couples. These findings apply to anyone in a committed relationship, married or not. Here goes: First, sex really is important to couples' happiness. Of the happy couples in my study, 75 percent say they are satisfied with their sexual relationship. Second, for the majority of these couples, the frequency of sex declined over time. However, the quality of the sex increased for most of them. The big lesson here?
Don't focus on how often you make love. Focus on making it enjoyable for both of you.
To really make this advice work, you need to follow these action steps to complete today's challenge.
Right now, I want you to:
Tonight before bed, talk about sex. Ask your partner how it's going. Ask your partner what turns him or her on. Talking about sex generally leads to sex!
Within 7 days I want you to:
Knock your partner gently off balance. The action doesn't have to be big; it just has to upset the routine. For example, if you usually watch TV after dinner, take a walk instead. Watch what happens. Simple disturbances like this freshen up both of your feelings.
By the end of the challenge I want you to:
Change the place and situation for your lovemaking. Invite your partner to bed during your lunch hour. Or throw a blanket onto the living room floor. Couples are amazed at how effective this little trick is at shaking things up.